xunzi human nature

He gives several illustrations of what life is like in the state of nature, without any education on ritual and morality.

institutions; they are practicable forms in which the sages aimed to From a twenty-first-century perspective, this revival of The Xunzi ([ɕy̌n.tsɨ̀]; Chinese: 荀子; Wade–Giles: Hsün-tzŭ) is an ancient Chinese collection of philosophical writings attributed to Xun Kuang, a 3rd-century BC philosopher usually associated with the Confucian tradition.

Almost all of the philosophies of the Hundred Schools of Thought suggested a way to live harmoniously with one’s self and others and the major schools emphasized the importance of this harmony beginning with the government; only by having a just and virtuous government could one hope to see the same qualities in the citizens of a state. Following a line of Confucian thought, Xunzi argues that music, as defined and ordered by the ancient sage kings, acts like ritual in that it moderates and restrains the person listening and the person performing. still took him seriously as a philosopher. used.

As with the rest of his life, nothing is known of why he was there or what he did.

(Xunzi 22.3f). communicated, then he may cautiously lead the people and unify them by

Nevertheless, some people, through a combination of perseverance, talent, and luck, were able to discover how to make pots, and then taught that skill to others.
Eric Hutton (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014).

also decisive in politics and international Ritual teaches people to channel, moderate, and in some cases transform their desires so they can satisfy them in appropriate ways. Accumulation of effort is an important concept for Xunzi. If people were essentially good, there would not have been a need for the development of a Hundred Schools of Thought to tutor them in how to live harmoniously with each other. their own destruction: “poor plowing that harms the harvest, The regime responded by condemning all the works of the Hundred Schools of Thought except for Legalism and burning their books between 213-210 BCE. Either response was equally unreasonable because Heaven had nothing whatsoever to do with rainfall. aggression on the grounds that he is merely “punishing” When a ruler governs a state well, there are bound to be good results; detestable: this depends entirely on their conduct.

In fact, Xunzi is notable for having probably the most rationalistic view of Heaven and the supernatural in the early period.

[6] It is at this time that he might have directly taught Han Feizi of Qin, the later founder of Legalism, and Li Si, the future prime minister of the Qin Dynasty, an association which would later tarnish his reputation.

He talks about cultivating moral principles as a process of crafting, using the metaphors of a potter shaping and firing clay into a pot, or using a press-frame to straighten a bent piece of wood. been sufficient to destroy a prudent and moral society—whereas According to Xunzi’s definition of human nature, no one could say people know how to make pots by nature: this is not something we can do without study and practice, like walking and talking are. , The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is copyright © 2016 by The Metaphysics Research Lab, Center for the Study of Language and Information (CSLI), Stanford University, Library of Congress Catalog Data: ISSN 1095-5054, 3. larger view: that people can perfect themselves and that such an In his letters, Pelagius notes that God wanted human to feel free and do what pleased them. Kim Chon-Chong, “Xunzi’s Systematic Critique of Mencius,” Philosophy East and West, 53/2 (2003), 215-33. Xunzi’s writings show him to be well acqu… conditions, or perhaps an innate tendency toward that state (Graham For the rest of imperial history, Xunzi was rejected by Xunzi diagnosed the main cause of disorder as a breakdown of the social hierarchy. If so, he certainly must have been disappointed that two of his former students, Li Si and Han Feizi, helped counsel Qin to victory when the Qin government was steadfastly opposed to Xunzi’s ideas of government through moral power. On a day in which rain was likely, it was reasonable to expect rain; on another, it was not.

relations. These results come about through their own good or bad decisions.

encapsulate the fundamental patterns of the universe. For most of Human nature is not essentially good; people are innately evil, self-centered, and base in their instincts. taken as a whole, the book conveys a distinctive philosophical (Xunzi 21.6a). unique is Xunzi’s emphasis on ritual as the key to a thinking. same questions as modern linguists. regarded as the most compelling today. tirelessly repeated clichés about Xunzi were that he propagated pp says: January 29, 2016 at 9:13 am

Email: davidelstein@world.oberlin.edu (Xunzi Individual things will have their own names in this construct (for example, that is an acoustic guitar), as will groups of things (those are musical instruments). direction—sometimes complicated by the acknowledgment that the T.C.

Xunzi believes desires are inevitable. In this way, Xunzi emphasizes the essential perfectability of everyone.

In the event that such a teacher is unavailable, the next best method is to honor ritual principles sincerely, trying to embody them in oneself. capacity and others do not (Graham 1989: 250; Shun 1997:

The ideas within the Xunzi are thought to have exerted a strong influence on Legalistthinker…

The Way is the path away from obsession because of the nature of its interaction with the mind, which is empty, unified and still, according to Xunzi, when it is in accord with the Way. duly rules the world by his charismatic example.

The fact that the host fetches the

One should use language carefully and precisely, Xunzi argued, in order to prevent one’s self from misrepresenting objective reality. Xunzi, however, argues that "those who maintain that desires must be gotten rid of before there can be orderly government fail to consider whether desires can be guided..."[13] Here Xunzi asserts that if someone truly understood desires, they would not make such a contradictory statement (desires, in Xunzi's mind, cannot be guided). Xunzi’s pragmatic vision of the nature of human existence and his denial of supernatural influences not only influenced Confucianism but prefigured later philosophical movements in other cultures. 233 BCE), Li Si 李斯 (d. 208 BCE), and Zhang Cang He was born in the state of Zhao in north-central China around 310 BCE. It must promulgate the correct music to give people a legitimate source of emotional expression and ban unorthodox music to prevent it from upsetting the balance of society. fact false; they are “disputes with no use” However, as noted below in the Man's Nature is Evil section, Xunzi argues for the use of ancient rites and regulations to hone the self, while Zhuangzi believes that simply emptying the mind, without absorbing such information regarding ritual and regulation, and thus falling into a state of wu-wei is sufficient to walking the path of the Way. example, the only way to account for them is to acknowledge that our high numbers suggest that Xunzi’s essays had been circulating them as embellishment is auspicious; to take them as spiritual is process, the Sages left behind appropriate musical compositions that Because the heart-mind can control both itself heterodox, if not deliberately subversive. As a young man he studied in the state of Qi in the northeast, which had the greatest concentration of philosophers of the age. his enemy’s intolerable violations of ritual.

Knoblock, John (English); Zhang, Jue, trans.

Humans remained subject to God, and thus, they received another chance of redemption through Jesus who is the son of God.

If one wishes one’s crops to grow, one should observe proper planting procedures so they will be watered at appropriate times; one should not pray for a good crop and leave it at that. The problem is that unreflective principles that the sages wished us to embody (Xunzi

“good” because following the impulses of our Wang, William S-Y., 1989, “Language in China: A Chapter in guest of honor himself, but expects the other guests to arrive on Xunzi, we recall, argued strongly against the belief in Heavenly of our artifice: whereas, obeying one’s xing and following one’s emotions Both Mengzi and Xunzi disagree on the answer but their arguments on how to nurture one in order for them to realize this nature are similar in many areas.

harvesting is, once again, a more productive model. Through study and practice, one could learn to appreciate ritual for its own sake, not just as a means to satisfy desires. Worrying about Heaven’s favor is a waste of time; it is better to be prepared for whatever might happen. Similarly, the mandatory same is true of the regular and predictable sequence of the

Mencius, Kant, Virtue Ethics

ways. this relationship unlikely. 其善者偽也). It was as well the subject of an in-depth and comprehensive investigation.
something like an Augustinian conception of evil is not intended.

chapters read like self-standing essays, others do not. 左傳), in particular, is famous for its scenes in which a wished to highlight his conviction that the proper models for moral


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